What I learned from a 21 Day Social Media Detox
Starting with a social media detox in a time of social distancing might seem misanthropic. Starting with a social media detox living in a remote area (our nearest neighbor stops by once per three moths) in the time of social distancing mind sound like pure madness. And yet... I desperately needed to switch off. Working for a company as a Social Media Content Creator, I spend the last year liking, commenting, using GIFs, putting links and honestly, it was tiring. So I decided to break up with my phone. Here's what I've learned.
According to statistics, in 2019 the average time spent on social media was 144 minutes. And that's just an average. Many people spend more time liking, commenting and sharing stories than eating, drinking, shopping and real world socializing. In a life time that means spending 6 years and 8 months using social media. Ouch!
I'm from a generation remembering times before mobile phones. We were out a lot. I remember my parents checking all pubs in the town because we didn't specify the name of the pub we went to. We didn't have a phone so we were supposed to get home on time. Or not. And summers were even better. We went to outdoor festivals, concerts and earned money as camp instructors. Now, the whole generation spends most of the summer hanging out alone in their room with their phone. As one girl in the somewhat sad article with a title How smartphones destroyed a generation said: “We didn’t have a choice to know any life without iPads or iPhones. I think we like our phones more than we like actual people.”
This dramatic change from one generation to another leads not only to so called texting thumb, text neck or mobile phone elbow, but can have a major impact on mental health. Depression, suicide (mostly among girls), body image issues, relationship issues (when the interaction around the dinner table dies off because everyone has their mobile phone handy), sleep issues - what we see is a major mental health crisis.
Social media companies don't normally release information about how much time people spend on their platforms but studies show that Facebook is the leader on the market with 58 minutes spent on its platform, followed by YouTube, TikTok and Instagram.
I am an average social media user - I have a tracker on my phone and before going on a social media detox I spend 142 minutes daily on social media platforms. Just the first day of the detox, the time on SM decreased by one hour. One hour! The phone stops to be so appealing when you delete the social media icons, not to mention putting my phone on grey mode after 8 pm (which I definitely recommend).
The first days were the most difficult. Especially in the morning, when I instinctively grabbed my phone to check Instagram and Facebook but heck!, I deleted the icons and there were no messages or SMS. I've sent all messages within a few minutes and that was it for the day. I still used my phone to make videos for my courses on Udemy, for zoom calls, I listened to audiobooks, took pictures and read books but I've never used my phone more then for half an hour per day and I didn't even bothered to take it out of my bag on a weekend camping trip.
Sounds too good to be true? What helped me tremendously was the book How to break up with your phone by Catherine Price. This book is a must for all those of us who went a bit overboard with phone usage. Here are my tips for JOMO (joy of missing out):
Unfollow and Unsubscribe: Of course I want you to follow me but please do so only if you love my posts about healthy living. Otherwise, unfollow. And unsubscribe from every e-mail list you no longer want to see in your Inbox. You will not lose followers (I didn't)
Switch off all notifications.
Don't post during the weekend. Spend weekends with your family and friends, face to face. Prioritize real socializing instead of social media.
No phones on the dinner table nor in the bedroom. Period.
Go to settings, time tracker, to see where do you spend the most time while being on your phone.
Create before you consume.
Put your phone on grey mode after 8 pm (it will become so boring you won't even have bother).
Explain your kids that the brains of Silicon Valley, Apple founder included, did not allow their kids to have a phone. I guess they knew why.
Have a plan. It's easier to forget about your phone when you're doing some interesting activity.